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UN agencies urge Somalia to pass law prohibiting FGM practice

Sunday February 7, 2021The blades and anti-bleeding powder used in female genital mutilation
The blades and anti-bleeding powder used in female genital mutilation, which is carried out on the vast majority of women and girls in Somalia. Photograph: Georgina Goodwin/UNFPA

MOGADISHU, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- Two UN agencies on Saturday called on the Somali government to commit to ending female genital mutilation (FGM) by passing a law that eliminates the practice.

The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN children's fund (UNICEF) called on the government to revive efforts for passage of the FGM Bill which has been stuck in the legislative process for several years.

"FGM is a harmful practice that scars girls and women and endangers their health for life depriving them of their rights and denying them the chance to reach their full potential," UNFPA Representative for Somalia Anders Thomsen said in a joint statement issued in Mogadishu to mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM.

Thomsen also urged the government to pass the Sexual Offences Bill to act expeditiously to end the practice and protect the rights of girls and women.

According to the latest Somali Health and Demographic Survey, the Horn of Africa nation has one of the highest rates of FGM in the world.

The survey says 99 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have been subjected to this extremely harmful and unacceptable practice.

According to the UN agencies, there are various forms of FGM practiced and two out of three Somali women have undergone the most extreme type of FGM called infibulation.

The UN agencies said providing a legal framework that bans FGM will empower families and communities to stand firm and refuse to let their daughters be cut, putting an end to this gross violation of human rights.

"We must collectively renew our commitment to ending this harmful practice and work with all stakeholders to change attitudes so that the next generation of girls can live healthier lives," Jesper Moller, UNICEF Deputy Representative in Somalia.

The UN says there are many reasons that FGM is almost universally practiced in Somalia including the fact that many religious and community leaders encourage the practice, wrongly justifying it as a religious necessity.

Families also view cutting as a way of protecting their daughter's chastity and that it is a prerequisite for marriage, the UN agencies said.


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